As I was driving Michael from track practice this week, he and I noticed that one house had recently decorated for Easter.  There were several very large Easter bunnies in the front yard, a pretty holiday wreath on the front door and about 1,427 colored Easter eggs scattered on the front yard.   That house was a true melody of pastel colors and so fun to look at.

As we passed by the house Michael said “Remember how much Elizabeth liked to do Easter egg hunts?”  “Yes!!!!”  I told him.  And we talked about how many times she liked to hide the eggs as well as hunt them.  I told Michael that there were many things she liked in the whole Easter celebration but that many of them took some work to allow her to enjoy them.  This was due to her special needs of global dyspraxia and sensory processing disorder ( SPD).  I told Michael we had to learn how to make the activities fun and low anxiety for her.

This got me thinking that now that we are 21 Easters into this journey, maybe I could share some of the things we did to help Elizabeth and maybe one or two of them can be used by you for your child.  So here we go:


So what I will tell you NOT to do is to try and make your special needs child part of the event from start to finish.  Meaning, we did not try to have Elizabeth help us hard boil the eggs.  I know what you are thinking and it is Michele, why would you have a young child help near scalding hot water?  So clearly that is bad idea, but what I meant was getting the eggs from the refrigerator and putting them into the pan.  As simple as this sounds, I will tell you many eggs lost their lives over my early attempts to have Elizabeth participate.  Her dyspraxia makes gauging pressure and distance hard, so instead of setting them into the pan, she would drop them the last few inches and like the popular Easter movie said, we had egg soup.

So do some of the work  ahead of time.  Set up your work site with messes in mind.  This way you will relax more and worry less.  We use plastic table clothes from the dollar store to line the table and put newspaper down on top to help catch the spills. Also, make lots of eggs.  My children blew threw theirs early on and wanted more that year, so now I avoid that problem and make enough to “gift” them to my family.

Give everyone a rainbow of colors.  I would buy three sets of colors, one for each child.  I would have cups for each color for each child.  It may seem like a lot but trust me, I knew I would be working with and encouraging Elizabeth as she attempted to color eggs so if she wanted to dunk the egg 14 times in the blue then green, I wanted my other kids to have a shot at the blue and the green too!  So this way everyone had their own.

Celebrate all successes.  I said  it before and will say it always.   When Elizabeth dunked the eggs in EVERY color there was and the egg was the color of army fatigues but SHE DID IT!  We were happy.  When she colored all of her eggs blue that year.  We too celebrated because she did it, had fun and made the choice herself.


For us these hunts have always been a favorite of hers. She has always loved the hunt.  I think what helped her like it so much was the we went with her the first few times to get her to understand that you pick more than one egg.  She actually stopped after one egg the first time until we explained how the whole egg hunt thing worked.  She did great at public hunts but really loved the ones at our house with a few friends.

We also told her that if it was too crowded or pushy, she did not have to go.  I think she liked knowing she had an out.  Some of those egg hunts can get a bit crazy.  We also taught her how to hide them when it was her turn.   She loved doing this for her little brother and it taught turn taking.  So that was a good thing too! So really explaining it out helps!


Candy, a basket and all brought by a big bunny?

I have to say here that Elizabeth has not one time been a fan of the Easter bunny or tooth fairy coming to our home and actually told me one time to “please tell them not to come into her room”  I explained that they did not have to do that and she insisted she was “waiting up for them…all night”  So the point here is that for our special need children, what other children see as fun may actually cause anxiety in ours.  I often wonder how she actually pictured the Easter bunny that made her so afraid!?!?!

So if your child is like mine, and you see anxiety starting, I offer out to ask the big questions…and talk it through.  Once she had the assurance that her room was off limits, she felt so much better.  For the record, she did put her tooth in the hallway for the tooth fairy and happily retrieved her money the following morning.

I hope some of these funny stories and tips help you get some ideas to make your holiday fun and I hope you make some great memories.!!!!

Michele Gianetti author of “I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey” and “Emily’s Sister